Early Years - Nursery & Reception
The Foundation Stage is made up of Nursery and Reception classes and is situated in a separate, purpose built and open plan building.
Both classes have lessons with specialist teachers and benefit from the beautiful grounds and facilities, including the woodland area for outdoor learning and the various swimming pools across the Mount Kelly Foundation. There are close links between the Nursery and Reception, leading to smooth and happy transitions into school life.
Within our well-equipped and stimulating environment, we offer the opportunity for children to learn and develop a wide range of important skills indoors and out. The focus is on learning through structured play, on investigating and exploring basic concepts which helps to form the building blocks to success in the more formal environment of later school years.
The curriculum is planned around a programme of themes, usually stemming from the children’s interests. We introduce different topics which the children explore through a variety of media, including books, art, clay, drama, music, ICT, crafts and model making, as well as visits off site to experience the world around them; both in our local community, the wider community and through different cultures. We also invite visitors, including parents, to come and tell us about their specialisms and passions, such as poetry, life as a doctor and cultural champions.
A balanced curriculum stimulates curiosity and lays the foundation for future learning. Well taught and well planned, it fully utilises our wide variety of excellent facilities. Children are taught to think imaginatively, creatively and critically. The children have the confidence for wider exploration and start to relate the world around them with their class room activities. We encourage the children to think for themselves, take risks, make decisions and develop their self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem.
Assessment and Progress
In both Nursery and Reception the children have key workers; we keep a record of your child’s progress in their online Learning Journey called Tapestry in which there are photos, videos and notes about what they have enjoyed and achieved.
Partnership with parents is vital to the overall well-being and development of the children. We recognise that parents are the experts on their children and we value your opinions. Parents have been the main educator and the most important person in the child’s life so far and you will have a wealth of knowledge about your child’s interest, behaviours, capabilities and skills. We would encourage you to celebrate and share with us your child’s achievements and learning at home by adding these to their Tapestry Journal.
There are many opportunities to discuss your child’s progress informally. We hold formal Parent/Teacher Meetings every term and a written report is sent to you at the end of the Michaelmas and Summer term. We aim to build the partnership with parents in the education and happiness of your children. We have an ‘open door’ policy, meaning that you are welcome to come and chat to us at any time.
We offer taster sessions at the end of each term for children starting Nursery the following term. Our Toddler group also offers an opportunity for children to get to know staff, become familiar with the Nursery environment and to gain confidence before their start date.
In Nursery there is a ratio of 1:6 adults to three and four year olds, for two year olds the ratio become 1:4. Staff pride themselves on getting to know each child and tailoring their care and education to their needs and interests. In Nursery the focus is on developing children’s confidence and social skills; taking risks and persevering supports children in all areas of learning and development, in the early years and beyond.
All areas of the curriculum are taught during fun focus sessions as well as by incorporating them into play and the general learning environment. We foster a love of learning and an excitement for challenging ourselves by developing supportive and caring relationships with the children.
Our spacious nursery and easily accessed resources allows the children to extend their learning and to work and play alongside their peers. Our garden and playground areas encourage the children to explore and continue their learning out in the fresh air. We make the most of the beautiful school site and visit the woodland, lake and adventure playground as part of our weekly forest school sessions.
In Nursery we work closely with our friends in Reception; each week we take turns to visit each other’s classrooms; helping to make the move from Nursery to Reception a smooth and enjoyable one.
The importance of Personal, Social and Emotional development, Communication and Physical development continue to be the cornerstones of learning in Reception. The basics of literacy are taught daily in Reception through a phonics programme of Letters and Sounds, using Jolly Phonics and Read Write Inc. Carefully planned activities ensure children have opportunities to communicate their thoughts, ideas and feelings. The children are gradually introduced to the principles of mark making and writing.
Mathematics is introduced through different practical activities, including such things as counting games and songs, weighing activities and measuring, and is also taught daily. Opportunities for the children to develop Physical skills comes through play outside, in the garden, in the woods during Forest school, through Leap into Life and PE sessions. Varying themes help the children to find out about the world around them, their community and using various technologies. The children are encouraged and supported to participate in all areas of the curriculum and School life. PE, music and swimming are taught with specialist teachers. There continues to be a strong emphasis on learning through play but the balance shifts to a little more structure as the year progresses.
Throughout the Reception year a Foundation Stage Profile will be completed. We will make a series of assessments across seven areas of development known as Early Learning Goals. This then provides a picture of what a child has achieved, knows and can do. There are no tests or tasks and the teachers build the profile over the year.
Transition to Year 1
By the end of the Foundation Stage, the children in Reception are enthusiastic and confident learners, who are ready for the slightly more structured, less play-based, environment of Year 1. There is a smooth transition between Reception and Year 1 helped by setting up the classrooms in a similar way and ensuring that the children are familiar with their new teachers before moving up. The teachers in Year 1 are well informed about each child’s development.